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tv   The Rachel Maddow Show  MSNBC  August 4, 2010 11:00pm-12:00am EDT

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ladies and gentlemen, here is rachel maddow. good evening, rachel. >> thank you. thank you at home for staying with us. for the next hour, as keith mentioned, pending traffic jams and such, we will be speaking this hour with david boies and ted olson, the two -- the unlikely team of lawyers, of high-powered lawyers who successfully argued the case against proposition 8. we'll speaking with them in just a moment. in the past decade, 31 states have put to a vote question of whether or not gay people should be allowed to get married. 31 states have put those minority right up to a vote, and in all 31 of those states, that minority rights issue has gone down to defeat. in general, when you ask for a majority rules vote on minority rights, you get results like what we've seen on the gay marriage issue. 31 out of 31 times and 31 out of 31 states voters vote it had down. but here's the thing about rights. they are not actually supposed to be voted on.
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that's why they are called rights. no state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the united states, nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty or property without due process of law, nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws. no state shall deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws. even if lots of people in that state want to. it's not up for a vote. rights are part of the deal if you're an american. that's why the equal protection clause is in the constitution, and in this case specifically it's in part of the newly controversial 14th amendment to the constitution. rights are not supposed to be put up for a vote. they are not a popularity contest. they are supposed to be subject to a test of their constitutionality. that's why we have courts, not just to put people on trial, but to try the things the people say they want to be their laws.
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you try those things against the constitution, and the constitution restrict the things that americans can make laws about, so those laws don't infringe on our constitutionally protected rights. that's sort of the big idea in this country. that's sort of the big idea that is this country. america, come for the religious liberty. stay for the rock-ribbed constitutional guarantees of all your other rights. today for the first time in our nation's history, a federal court put the issue of a state ban on gay marriage to the constitutional test. the results were blistering. a federal judge in california ruled unequivocally today and in the strongest possible terms that california's recently passed gay marriage ban, prop 8, is unconstitutional. the ruling is long, but it is a page-turner. federal judge vaughn walker summed up his ruling this way. quote, moral disapproval alone is an improper basis on which to deny rights to gay men and lesbians. the evidence shows proposition 8 does nothing more than enshrine
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in the california constitution the notion that opposite-sex couples are superior to same-sex couples. the court concludes that proposition 8 is unconstitutional, and with that california's gay marriage ban went kaput. a huge victory, of course, for gay rights supporters in that state and possibly around the country. but judge walker, who is a george h.w. bush appointee, george walker struck down california's gay marriage ban as unconstitutional, he also probably set the stage for what will be the next big court fight and the next big political fight. the anti-gay marriage side that was defeated in this case has already filed paperwork expressing their intention to appeal the decision. you should expect to hear lots of excerpts from judge walker's ruling, not only in the legal discussion, but i think you'll hear it in the political fight that is sure to come as well, because i think many conservatives will see some of this language as explosive. quote, that the majority of california voters supported
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proposition 8 is irrelevant, as fundamental rights may not be submitted to a vote. they depend on the outcome of no elections. also, there's this. the evidence shows that the movement of marriage away from a gendered institution and towards an institution free from state-mandated gender roles reflects an evolution in the understanding of gender rather than a change in marriage. the evidence did not show any historical purpose for excluding same-sex couples from marriage as states have never required spouses to have an ability or willingness to procreate in order to marry. rather, the exclusion exists as an artifact of the time when the genders were seen as having distinct roles in society and in marriage. that time has passed. the right to marry has been historically and remains the right to choose a spouse, and with mutual consent join together and form a household. race and gender restrictions shaped marriage during eras of race and gender inequality, but such restrictions were never part of the historical core of
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the institution of marriage. today, depender is not relevant to the state in determining spouse's obligations to each other and to their dependants. stick that on a bumper sticker. actually, i will bet that you somewhere in right wing america someone already is. you know, the night that the gay marriage ban passed in california back in november 2008, gay people and gay rights supporters took to the streets in anger during what was an otherwise joyous election night for liberals and progressive. barack obama had just been elected president, but then in california that was prop 8. today some of those same protesters were back in the streets, this time celebrating, celebrating a dramatic and provocative reversal. in a few minutes, we'll be joined by david boies and ted olson, the two attorneys who won the case against problem 8 today but first we're joined by slate.com's legal correspondent. thanks so much for joining us. >> hi there, rachel. >> so the senior legal counsel
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for the alliance defense fund, the people defending prop 8, say they plan to appeal the decision today, all the way to the u.s. supreme court. where do they start? what happens next? >> well, first, we have a little fight that we're going to have over the judge staying his order. in other words, today judge walker almost immediately temporarily stayed his order, and he's going to let the parties decide. i think their papers are due, it's definitely expedited, but i think by friday they have got to get their files in, and then he's got to make a decision, i'm hearing on tuesday, whether or not this will be stayed pending an appeal. we have already a fight over a stay, and then over and above that, as you say, there's going to be an appeals process. both sides had intended to appeal because the end game here was always to get this before the u.s. supreme court. >> in terms of the ruling, judge walker's reasoning, the way he wrote his decision, if or when
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this does make it to the u.s. supreme court, or even looking ahead to the ninth circuit, based on your understanding of the law here, how strong do you think the anti-gay marriage appeal is going to be? how resilient do you think this ruling is going to be when it gets higher scrutiny? >> it's a great question, rachel, and it's really clear when you look at this 138-page opinion of which you read some of the highlights but not nearly all. it's really worth reading in its entirety, but, you know, two very, very strategic things that judge walker did. one, and you quoted some of these quotes yourself, he quoted anthony kennedy who has been the pivotal justice on gay rights issues, in romer, the colorado anti-gay rights initiative and then again in lawrence v. texas, the texas sodomy case. it was anthony kennedy, believe it or not, on a very, very polarized court, who always stood really steadfast and in lofty language for the rights and the dignity of gay
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americans, so this is couched in a little bit of a love letter to anthony kennedy. the other thing that's really important to understand in judge walk walker's order is that there are findings of fact and there are findings of law. an appellate court has to defer enormously to a judge's findings of fact. they can really look at findings of law from scratch, and judge walker puts together 80 different findings of fact in this cage, really meticulously combing through the record, looking at the evidence, citing the witnesses and finding 80 different places where he says things as a matter of fact, like kids, it doesn't make any difference if you're raised by gay or straight parents, that the animus of prop 8 was biased and based on stereotypes. so bump, bump, bump, he goes down 80 findings of fact that the courts will have to take very seriously so i think that he really constructed something that is going to be hard to dismiss as, you know, activist judges fingerpainting, you know,
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to loud music. >> i'm so glad that you pointed it out. just as a layman, i have no legal training or anything, but i was reading through this and got to the statements of fact and instead of just reading them online i started printing them out and highlighting them because i sort couldn't believe because this was in that part of the ruling, the campaign to pass prop 8 relied on stereotypes to show that same-sex relationships are inferior to opposite-sex relationships. he then says the stereotypes are not based in fact. he makes claims about, you know, the health of children in gay families. it's a bold, bold ruling. in terms of the federal and national implications for this, dahlia, narrowly this is about proposition 8 in call, but this was a federal court ruling. does this have implications for other states? >> well, not immediately, and in fact judge walker was very careful in the -- in his own closing arguments and when he was talking to the lawyers, asking questions. he asked a lot of questions about doma, the defense of marriage act. that doesn't come up in this
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case, so i think what this really does is it in a very, very broad statement, i mean, he finds both as a matter of equal protection and as a matter of due process of law, this is unconstitutional. so it's not a narrow ruling, rachel, but certainly i think this tees up a question that the supreme court probably wants to avoid, but i think is really going to have to deal with. i mean, this is a, you know, has always been a gamble about, as i said, one person, anthony kennedy at the center of the court, and i think it tees it up in a way that's going to make really force the court to contend with this issue squarely on the merits. again, dealing with these very, very elaborate findings of fact. >> and that was always the case that was made by david boies and ted olson when they faced criticism for pushing forward with this case, when some other advocates on this issue wanted othercations to take the issue forward. they always maintained that they felt like this was their best -- this was their best vehicle for bringing it up to the supreme court, david boies and ted olson will actually be joining us
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next. senior editor for slate.com, you really helped clarify this. thanks a lot. >> thank you, rachel. >> there is much more to say about today's historic repudiation, refeudation, of proposition 8 and where the issue goes next. we'll get with david boies and ted olson, the attorneys who pushed this case in the california federal court system coming up next. later on, think you don't have to vote in the mid-terms, don't make me come to your house. please stay with us. ing if i could say hi to the doctor. - is he in? - he's in copenhagen. - oh, well, that's nice. - but you can still see him. - you just said he was in-- - copenhagen. - come on. - that's pretty far. - doc, look who's in town. - ellen! - copenhagen? - cool, right? vacation. - but still seeing patients. ( whispers ) workaholic. - i heard that. - she said it. - i-- cisco-- introducing healthpresence. i'm going to own my own restaurant. i want to be a volunteer firefighter. when i grow up, i want to write a novel.
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on election night 2008, in november of 2008, this was probably the single strangest on-air moment for me. this happened after midnight east coast time. barack obama had already won the presidency, and we were here in this studio covering the reaction to the election results around the country, and in the midst of that, with everybody else i work with here at msnbc, this happened. >> i believe we've got some pictures out of san francisco as well. some of the celebration pouring out in the castro district of the city, as it's known, a place near and dear to your heart, chris matthews. >> certainly me having written for the papers out there all those years. >> that may not all be celebration if it's in the castro. >> prop 8 is -- >> me saying that may not all be celebrating, you guys. have you heard anything about problem 8? what was happening in the castro
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in san francisco on election night was a little more complicated than people just cheering for obama. it was people realizing that on the same night that america voted for a first -- its first african-american president, same-sex couples in california lost their existing civil right to get married. joining us now from a rally in los angeles are the two unlikely allies who brought this case in federal court. attorneys david boies and ted olson. they faced off against each other of course in bush v. gore in 2000 and stood on the same side of this case. gentlemen, congratulations, and thank you so much for your time tonight. >> thank you. >> thank you, rachel. >> mr. olson, let me start with you. do you feel like you got everything you were hoping for from judge walker's ruling today? >> we feel very, very gratified by judge walker's ruling. it was a 138-page analysis of all of the evidence in the case on both sides. it thoroughly dismantled the evidence presented by the other side. it analyzed all of the legal
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issues, the pros and cons from every conceivable standpoint and came out on the side of the gay and lesbian couples that we represented in every respect. we're very, very grateful. >> mr. boies, looking ahead to next steps here, obviously the opposition in this case already filed paperwork indicating that they would like to appeal. do -- candidly, do you think there are any elements of this ruling that may be difficult to defend on appeal? judge walker writing a very forceful statement of his view of the evidence. >> it was a very, very careful and well-written opinion, and it was very well grounded in the facts of the case. we said at beginning that we would establish three things, that marriage was a fundamental right and that deprive gay and lesbian citizens of the right to marry harmed them and harmed their children and that depriving gays and lesbians of the right to marry could not help heterosexual marriage at all. the judge pointed out that we were right on all three of those
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grounds and that not only were we right, but the defendant's own witnesses had admitted those three propositions during the trial. so i think that one of the things that the judge has done is has made a very, very strong opinion that's very, very difficult to overturn on appeal. >> mr. olson, there's another gay marriage case that is making its way to the supreme court from massachusetts where gay marriage is legal, of course. last month a u.s. district court judge ruled that the defense of marriage act, the federal defense of marriage act is unconstitutional. what effect do those cases have on one another? what effect do those cases, how did they interact with this case that you've just won today in terms of what happens ultimately at the federal or supreme court level? >> well, they are different cases involving different issues, but the common thread in these cases is treating gay and lesbian individuals equally and not discriminating against them, not applying the laws of the united states or the laws of california or any other state in
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a discriminatory fashion for no purpose against individuals who happen to be gay and lesbian. the judges in the massachusetts case and the judge today in the california proposition 8 case went through all of the evidence and could find no justification, no rational basis for the disparate treatment of gays and individuals with respect to marriage, and the massachusetts judge did pretty much the same thing with the federal defense of marriage statute. so the cases resonate with one another. they make a strong collective case for ending discrimination on this basis. >> one of the things that is remarkable about this case is the fact that the two of you are arguing it together, obviously coming from very different places in terms of your own affiliations with democratic and republican parties, your own political views, but you come together on this issue. i wonder looking ahead to the u.s. supreme court, what is considered to be a very conservative john roberts-led
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supreme court right now, is this the right court to bring up a gay marriage case before? is the court just too conservative to ever rule in favor of equality in this current incarnation? >> i think that one of the messages that ted and i working together on this case sends is that this is not a republican or a democratic issue, not a conservative, not a liberal issue. it's a human rights, a civil rights issue. this was a great victory for gays and lesbians and the children that they raise. it's also a great victory for all americans, for anybody who has ever been discriminated against because they are of a different color or of a different sex or creed or indeed all americans who have an interest in equality, and i think that is a common value of all of us, not just conservatives, not just liberals. and would i hope that the supreme court, like everybody, would rejoice in this kind of advancement of constitutional
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civil rights. >> i agree with david. this is -- we've got to stop thinking about equality in terms of conservative or liberal. we need to start thinking about the fact that gays and lesbian citizens are our brothers and our sisters. they are entitled to equal places in our society. that should be a conservative value. it is also a liberal value. it is not something that should split us. >> would either one of you gentleman mind doing me a favor and just turning around to the people behind you and asking them if they are happy with today's ruling. >> david will do that. >> what do you think about that opinion, huh? >> all right. i think that's a fairly good, you know, cross-reference there. good sample there of the population. >> okay. >> well, david boze and ted olson, i know that this is a very big day for you and i really appreciate you taking the time to talk with us today. congratulations, again, and good
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luck as this continues forward. >> thank you very much. >> thank you, rachel. wow, okay. do you remember, um, the really creepy anti-gay researcher who said that people could be cured of the gay, except then he turned up in an airport coming home from a european vacation with a really cute blond rent boy who he tried to explain away as his luggage handler? remember that story? well, that guy turns up in the most amazing way in this court ruling today from california. not the rent boy, the anti-gay guy who hired the rent boy for his baggage. he turns up in the ruling. you sort of won't believe how. that's next.
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one amazing thing about the gay marriage ban that was overturned in california today was something i had known about the trial while it was happening, but i didn't really appreciate the importance of it until i read the ruling that came out this afternoon. the anti-gay marriage people, the people defending the gay marriage ban in court, only called two experts in their whole case. they only called two witnesses. the first one was this guy, david blankenhorn, president of the institute for american values. now judge walker spent the better part of ten pages of his ruling just talking smack about
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david blankenhorn. think i'm kidding? consider this. quote, the court now determines that mr. blankenhorn's testimony constitutes inadmissible opinion testimony that should be given essentially no weight. wow. quote, blankenhorn lacks the qualifications to offer opinion testimony, and in any event failed to provide cogent testimony in support of proponents' factual assertions. ow, ow. here's another. blankenhorn's book, "the future of marriage," lists numerous consequences of permitting same-sex couples to marry. mr. blankenhorn explained that the list of consequences arose from a group thought experiment in which an idea was written down if someone suggested it. quote, none of blankenhorn's opinions is reliable. ow, ow, ow, ow, ow. back in may, "new york times" columnist frank rich tied the same mr. blankenhorn to this
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star of the anti-gay movement who you may recognize, george reekers, whose own paid testimony against gay families in arkansas and florida was so bad that judges in those states made special notice of how bad he was as a witness. george reekers is nationally famous outside legal circles because in between his quack begun how to cure the gays with his national association for research and therapy of homosexuality, george reekers was spotted, that's him there on the left, coming home in april from a two-week european vacation with a rent boy, a young man hired through rentboy.com. the young man who had been giving the reverend reekers very, very specialized massages on that vacation, although mr. reekers maintained that the comley young man was simply helping him with his baggage. and to the extent that baggage means a lot of other things, i suppose i can't complain. after george reekers got caught with the rent boy in the miami
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airport, mr. reekers resigned his position in narth. he was gone, but his kahnawake scholarship lived on. mr. blankenhorn telling the court in california in the trial that was ruled on today that it was bad for kids to be raised by two moms or two dads. in a may 19th letter to the "new york times" mr. blankenhorn met he never met george reekers or read any of his writings. it turned out that wasn't true. mr. blankenhorn then wrote his own correction letter to "the times" on june 3rd admitting he had consulted george reekers' work in preparing his testimony on behalf of prop 8. mr. reekers and his narth association thing for curing the gay people, he also turned up in the testimony of another anti-gay marriage guy who appeared at this trial. now, this witness was actually called as an adverse witness. he was called by david boies and ted olson. he was called by the side seeking to have the gay marriage ban overturned.
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he was called not as a friendly witness though. his name is hak shing william tan and identified himself to the court as secretary of the american return to god prayer movement, and this is one of those things where the judge is so obviously disgusted by this witness that there's no way that i as a tv host can improve on what the judge just writes in the ruling about the witness. check this out. ready. let me get this right. proponent hak-shing william tam, testified that he is the secretary of the america return to god prayer movement, which operates the website 1man1woman within the net which encouraged voters to support proposition 8 on the grounds that homosexuals are 12 times more likely to molest children and because proposition 8 will cause states one by one to fall into satan's hands. mr. tam identified narth, the national association for research and therapy of
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homosexuality, the george reekers thing, as the source of information about homosexuality because he, quote, believes in what they say. mr. tam identified the internet as the source of information connecting same-sex marriage to polygamy and incest. protect marriage, the proposition 8 campaign, relied on mr. tam and through mr. tam used the website 1man1woman.net as part of the protect marriage campaign. so that's directly -- that's directly from the ruling. so in other words dude learned from the rent boy guy that gays are bad, and he knows that george reekers must be right about that because the man believes george reekers. also he says, as backup, the internet says so. this was the case for california's gay marriage ban. this was the case they put forward. the hak-shing william tam part of the trial transcript was actually so amazing you deserve to see part of it acted out by the proposition 8 trial
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re-enactment theater. >> where did you get that idea? >> it was on the internet. >> it's on the internet. >> yeah. >> you know what else is on the internet now? judge vaughn walker's ruling in this case, which i kid you not, is better than whatever novel you are currently reading right now, and you should print it out and curl up with it instead. you will not be disappointed. it's on the internet.
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my favorite song. on the democratic side of missouri yesterday, there was a primary for senate, but just barely. robin carnahan got a higher percentage of the vote than daniel radcliffe would get at a harry potter look alike contest. almost 84% of the vote. on the republican side it was a different story. senate hopeful roy blunt was fighting off so many opponents they could have fielded a baseball team. that's the -- that's the kansas city roy uh-huhs. that's bad. roy blunt fielded opposition from the tea party movement which fielded its own candidates when michele bachmann endorsed not the tea party guy but mr. blunt. >> we need roy blunt in the u.s. senate.
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>> but you're supposed to be running the tea party caucus. arghh! they love michele bachmann. they love her. they were mad, very upset. they called it a slap in the face which made for a very interesting raucous worth paying attention to republican senate primary in missouri. rule number 1,217 about electoral politics. exciting primaries mean more voters, and that's exactly what happened on the republican side yesterday. the internetin warfare didn't sink roy blunt. he won. but among the 23% paltry statewide turnout two out of every three voters came out to vote republican, so it wasn't really a big exciting deal that a two-thirds republican electorate ended up also electing for the symbolic anti-health reform thing that missouri had on the ballot yesterday. republicans want it to be a huge deal, but in the overall context it was essentially a popularity contest for the idea of as yet
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unimplemented health reform, only among the most motivated republican activists in the state of missouri what mish mcconnell and john boehner want to froth about as a national referendum on health reform was a poll from red sox fans about how they feel about the yankees. still, an important reminder of rule number 1,218 of electoral politics. who is voting is just about as important as who is running. as msnbc's dave weigel wrote at slate.com this week, during mid-term elections when you don't have a president at the top of the ticket, you see a contraction in the electorate. the electorate gets smaller, and when the electorate gets smaller, it doyles down to the hardest core of hard core i always vote no matter what voters, a traditionally more conservative group. how dave put it at slate is democrats know they are facing a whiter, older electorate this year than they faced in 2008. so the smaller the expected turnout, the more you should expect to see political tactics
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that target older, whiter people, and that is starting to explain a lot of what's been going on this year so far heading into these mid terms. joining us for the interview is my friend democratic political strategist and author of the book "foxes in the hen horse, how the republicans stole the south and the heartland and what the democrats must do to run them out," david saunders. >> great to see you. >> you are one of my favorite people to talk to about anything, and i feel you and i disagree on just about everything on democratic political strategy, and i think you're one of the best democratic political strategists in the country. >> that's a nice thing to say. >> you make me think i'm wrong all the time. >> well, we go back a ways. >> let's start with this issue about the electorate. obviously you're not going to get the same turnout that you got in the presidential year. what does that mean for political strategy, thinking about a smaller electorate in the mid terms? >> well, you know, personally, you know, this health care
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reform deal, there's been so much misinformation out there, twisted information. first off, i don't think the democrats ought to be on defense about it. >> okay. >> and the whole deal politics, electoral politics, i'm not a civics professor, i'm a campaigner, and electoral politics are about offense, and we've got to get away from this health care argument. where i come from in southwest virginia you can't -- you can't find anybody that supports it with a search warrant. i mean, they are just not there, and it's because of misinformation, and, you know -- >> you think democrats shouldn't try to counter the misinformation. if you're explaining, you're losing, that whole idea. just don't talk about it. >> listen, it's the economy. it's what it is. if we're going to hit issues, let's talk about the economy. let's talk about the job loss in america. let's talk about, you know, things that mean a lot to middle
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america and, of course, you know, the president's numbers are low with white working class americans, and that's the only way that he's going to get them is just, you know, the economy. >> how do you end up winning political points talking about the economy because the economy stinks so bad. >> it depends. i come from the jim webb school of populism, you know. social justice and economic fairness. economic fairness does not exist, you know, where i live or anywhere else, you know, throughout mainstream america. it's gone. i don't know why somebody hasn't, you know, started talking about bringing some of these jobs home. >> mm-hmm. >> and, you know, this global economy theory, that's all it's ever been, is a theory, and, you know, that's, you know, what i would go with. of course, you know, you made a great point there and the gentleman from slate.
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if i was running a campaign for somebody this cycle, my focus would be gotv and, you know, you've got to gettur people out. obama had such an organization. i mean, they got the names. they have got -- fortunately the democrats have enough money that they can organize great gotv programs. >> so you think the machine that literally turned out voters for obama, not just the obama campaign sort of message and strategy side, but the people who actually went door to door and got voters out, you think that should be sort of reanimated for other democrats. >> it cannot be done without on mah on a ticket, but we do have those names. >> yeah. >> and we can go and we can get those people and hit them in -- >> but what's your argument to people? people -- people aren't necessarily motivated. democratic enthusiasm is low heading into november. if you're training door knockers -- >> everybody's enthusiasm is
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low. >> yeah. >> except for the tea party. >> you've got to remember in 2008, you know, we were all standing up and screaming, you know. yes, we can, you know, but now, you know, the tea party people are the only ones hollering. there is no enthusiasm in the republican party. >> how do you run get out vote efforts then for democratic candidates then? how do you get voters enthused enough to take time out of the day to go vote in november? >> you start talking about issues, like the lack of economic fairness is what you talk about. you talk about jobs. you talk about how we're going to pull out of this thing. i mean, people out here are hurting rachel. i was noticing the other day suicide rates are way up, you know, in rural america, and, i mean, it's that tough, and that's what we've got to do. we've got to talk about -- we don't make anything anymore, and, you know, you can't do that forever. you can't just buy, buy, buy, buy and not make anything, and i'm, you know, a strong believer, and i can't believe
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that the democrats haven't hit on it yet, somebody to say, hey, what can we do to get these jobs home? some of them anyway. i understand the importance of a global economy, i do, but i also understand the importance of taking care of our own, and there are a lot of people out there hurting. they don't understand it. >> and the way the democrats who are running for re-election or the way that democrats like president obama are going around trying to fire up democratic base voters for this election should talk about that, it's just talking about that as a need for america to get back on track on those things, or should they be pushing a specific legislative agenda, democrats in congress pledge to x, y and z about bringing job homes? >> i don't think that mainstream america right now believes anything. i think that -- i mean, this tea party movement. it's the greatest thing that ever happened to the democrats, you know, without question. i mean, this girl sharron angle out in las vegas. >> she's amazing.
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>> in nevada. i mean, she's a christian reconstructionist. now, do you know what that is? >> no, i probably should. >> well, what it means is they believe that, first off, you're going to hell. >> me, all of us, you, too. at least we can go together. >> and 95% of the electorate in nevada is going to hell, and, i mean, for her to come out with comments like, you know, that she was prepared and had had this calling to run against senator harry reid and she was preparing for it just like moses prepared, you know, to lead the people through the wilderness for 40 years and to quote golda maier, selling the only place that didn't have oil, that these experiences appall and even jesus. i didn't know jesus needed training to be son of god until i heard sharron angle, but, i mean, some of this stuff. it's helping the democrats. >> yeah, if they can capitalize on it and get out some voters in
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november. >> i think the get out the vote, i think the deal is the democrats who show up for primaries is for you first choice but politics is becoming a lot like amway, and, you know. >> you tell two people and that's the wrong slogan but the pyramid. >> sure. >> democratic political strategist, could i talk to you all night. it's good to see you. haven't been back here long enough. we'll get you back here soon. >> i'll be back. take care. okay. coming up on "countdowns, ""the controversially surrounding the decision to build a mosque near ground zero. keith addresses that with hip hop entrepreneur russell simmons, and coming up on this show, the latest news we're hearing about the bp oil disaster is good, good, but weird, but still good, we think. a sugar-free report about the real situation in the gulf is coming up next. i don't want you going out on those yet. and leave your phone in your purse, i don't want you texting. >> daddy... ok! ok, here you go.
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be careful. >> thanks dad. >> and call me--but not while you're driving. we knew this day was coming. that's why we bought a subaru. when your eyes are smiling... you're smiling. and when they're laughing... you're laughing. be kind to your eyes... with transitions lenses. transitions adapt to changing light so you see your whole day comfortably... and conveniently while protecting your eyes from the sun. ask your eyecare professional which transitions lenses are right for you.
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did you hear today that the oil in the gulf is gone? really? most of it gone? ann thompson is our guest from
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venice, louisiana, next. when i grow up, i want to write a novel. i want to go on a road trip. when i grow up, i'm going to go there. i'm going to work with kids. i want to fix up old houses. [ female announcer ] at aarp we believe you're never done growing. i want to fall in love again. [ female announcer ] together we can discover the best of what's next at aarp.org.
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so the polite way to describe official estimates of the size of the bp oil disaster is fungible. the not polite way to describe those estimates is funny, not funny ha-ha but as in funny screwed up. >> now we know that about 1,000 barrels a day leaking from the actual well. >> we knew there's about 1,000 barrels a day leaking. they say now that noaa believes
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that that number could be 5,000 barrels, and there's another place that's actually leaking. >> wow. >> they now estimate that contrary to your early estimates, it's not 5,000 barrels of oil leaking into the gulf from this well every day. they estimate it's between 12,000 and 19,000 barrels per day. >> started from 1,000 to 5,000 barrels in april. by the next month it was 12,000 to 19,000 barrels. by the month after that it was 35,000 to a max of 60,000 barrels per day, and now a new estimate, 62,000 barrels a day. it's like watching the cost of your new kitchen over the course of the remodeling up, up, up, up, up, but we've got the new estimate of how much has been spilling. the resultant new estimate of how much in total has spilled in the gulf, and that set the stage for the weirdest news day yet in the bp oil disaster. today was the day we were that the oil is gone, gone. the government reported today that about 75% of the oil has
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essentially been taken care of or is well on the way of being taken care of in one way or another. on the one hand, great. on the other hand, huh? the report says that about one quarter of all of the oil wased skimmed or burned, and another quarter was dispersed through mother nature's kind waves. and another quarter dispersed not just through waves, but human operations, meaning a source that is known or unknown. wait, what? report of 2010, the remaining 26% of the oil is stuck in the gulf coast on the surface of the ocean. in the form of tarballs or washed into the marshlands and beaches and buried in the sand. the report says that this residual 26% is in the process
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of being degraded, and when you were talking about a 5 million barrel disaster that 26% of course means there is a lot of degrading to hope for. joining us now live from venice, louisiana, is nbc news chief environmental affairs correspondent anne thompson, and thank you very much for joining us tonight. >> a pleasure, rachel. >> ann, how is the news from the administration being received down in venice on how much oil is left in the gulf? >> i would say it is is being received with the healthy dose of skepticism. these are people who go out everyday into the waters of the gulf as members of the vessel of opportunity program here, and they are seeing oil primarily near shore. they not seeing as much oil come on shore as they have, but it is still here, and there are still tar balls washing up on the sand bars and still plenty of oil in marshes here in venice, and up in the bay, but the oil has not
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disappeared. but the other thing is that there is just a lack of trust on this issue. i mean, as you pointed out, when the crisis started, first they were told no leak, and then a leak and 1,000 to 5,000 barrels a day, and then several estimates and even with the latest flow rate estimate, they said it started to leak at 62,000 barrels a day and it finished at 53,000 barrels a day, and the question is how do you know? what do you really know? and the government said today what this really report really gives is a snapshot, if you will, of where they think that the 4.9 million barrels went, but more than a snapshot, it is really raising more questions, because for all of that oil that is dispersed, where does it go? what do all of those tiny little droplets do? and those are questions that no one can answer yet. >> are you also hearing concerns voiceded about the long-term impact of dispersant, and that
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is one thing that a lot of the fishermen were talking to me about, and the government sayin. that is good news/bad news, and that is okay, but oil is toxic. so it does not mean that it is harmless and that's just in the short term situation. they don't know the long term impacts, and that's what really scares people here. because, it is not just that they have lost their ability to fish for 107 days or probably 100 days of the crisis, but the question is, will those fish be
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back? some of them have short reproductive cycles and some of them have long reproductive cycles, and it may be decades before we get a complete picture of what this spill did to this very rich marine life here in the gulf of mexico. >> not only what it did to the marine life, but also the legal implications and the legal liability for bp in terms of taking care of these people and making the fisheries and the people who make their living from the fisheries whole. it is an incredible problem. one more question, anne, we have heard that thad allen has authorized bp to cement the oil, and it is is the static kill, and essentially the bottom line is that, should we expect no more leaking well until they get the relief well down there in a more permanent way? >> yes, they feel very confident with the success of the static kill in putting all of that drilling mud through the blowout preventer and forcing the oil back down through the pipe and into the reservoir that no more
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oil from the macondo well will leak into the gulf of mexico. they are going to put -- they are going to as an insurance move, they are going to pour cement, the same way they did with the mud, down the top of the well, and put a cement plug at the top of the well, however, they still have to do the relief well. thad allen has said all along even if they plug the well from the top, they have to plug it from the bottom, because it is only then that he will consider this well permanently shut-in. rachel. >> anne thompson braving the bugs and the heat and the humidity in the late hour for us. thank you, anne, appreciate it. >> sure. >> we will be right back. [ female announcer ] secret flawless renewal is formulated
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you really ought to read the proposition 8 ruling, because

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